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Clean up the Mat Rempit mess


"THESE Mat Rempit are a real nuisance. It's because of them that we too are categorised like them," said a motorcycle enthusiast, who only wanted to be known as Pek, as he parked his Kawasaki motorcycle at Dataran Bandaraya, about three kilometres from Johor Baru city centre.

  Pek is annoyed at the recent clampdown on two-wheeled machines in the city by authorities. His friends, who are part of a recreational motorcycling community, also share his sentiments.

  However, like many people, the 28-year-old doesn't blame the police as he knows that the Men-in-Blue are only doing their job.

  "It's the illegal racers, popularly known as Mat Rempit, that ruin the little pleasure of riding and meeting with his like-minded motorcycle community members.

  Pek is annoyed at the popularity of Jalan Skudai in Lido Beach as an illegal racing paradise for Mat Rempit, and to a lesser extent, cars as well.

  "After my work, I just want to park my motorcycle and unwind at the Lido Beach stretch.

  "It's because of this (the illegal racing) that I find it a nuisance to come here from Johor Jaya as I'm bound to meet with a police roadblock or be chased away by patrol cars," said Pek, who has a valid licence and road tax.

  Pek's predicament is understood, as the Mat Rempit problem is common in all big cities. Johor Baru, including the districts such as Batu Pahat, Kota Tinggi and also Muar are not spared and have their fair share of illegal motorcycle racing problems.

  These Mat Rempit, mostly on modified "kapchai" roam the city streets and create a din in the wee hours of the morning.

  The Mat Rempit phenomenon has gone on to be more of a problem for the authorities as it is now a national menace.

  Mat Rempit have annoyed the Malaysian nation with their reckless riding and total disregard for other road users for many years now.

  In Johor Baru, Mat Rempit have known to take over streets in residential areas as well as main roads in the city centre for their street races that can comprise up to hundreds of motorcycles at any one time.

  Just take a midnight drive along Jalan Skudai on the Lido Beach stretch and if one is lucky, they can see Mat Rempit speeding, cutting into lanes of other traffic users, creating noise and gathering menacingly at traffic lights acting as if they own the roads.

  When they are not racing, they are attempting stunts in open roads in a dangerous and haphazard manner  that often result into fatal accidents.

  Such accidents occur when they are trying to ride away from a police roadblock, sometimes into on-coming traffic, and when failed stunts cause their bikes to fall over injuring or killing the rider and the pillion.

  Johor police, especially in the Johor Baru North and South districts, have their hands full in trying to maintain peace and order by clamping down on these Mat Rempit on our roads.

  The reason is that most motorcycles used by  Mat Rempit do not meet standard specifications or have been modified extensively to achieve faster speeds.

  Another reason is that Mat Rempit usually travel in groups of about 30 bikes and race in city centres on weekends till the wee hours of the morning.

  This is a nuisance and an annoyance for the city's law-abiding folk.

  Mat Rempit are not only involved in illegal street racing but they are also known to participate in property theft, gang robbery, fighting, assault and vandalism.

  Of late, the Johor police have been trying to put a stop to the Mat Rempit problem by making their  presence felt at known illegal racing venues.

  Police personnel will block all exit points and they will check the motorcyclists' licence and road tax.

  Motorcycles suspected to be stolen will be checked to see if their registration numbers match their chassis and engine numbers.

  Of late, police have also used a combined patrol with the mobile policing vehicle (MPV) and also traffic police to deter motorcyclist from hanging out at known illegal racing areas.

  Among the main areas were the Lido Beach stretch of Jalan Skudai and also the start of the North-South Highway at the Skudai toll plaza.

  Besides that, the highway towards the Second Link in Taman Perling is also known to host such illegal races. But the police can only do so much.

  "It's not easy for police to maintain a constant presence as it is a strain on manpower," said Johor Baru resident and fellow motorcyclist Mohd Ridwan Mustafa.

  Ridwan, who is also active in his residential areas' community policing efforts, said the Mat Rempit situation has become worse in Johor Baru.

  "The police can only do so much. What is needed is political will as this will resolve the problem fast.

  "If the problem goes unchecked it will chase away investors from Iskandar Malaysia," said the 26-year-old burger stall proprietor.

  And I share  Ridwan's sentiments as most  Mat Rempit tend to rebel against the law.

  The Government must be reminded that although the Mat Rempit situation is not a new issue,  it has, of late, become rampant.

  Their activities are a threat to the safety and security of not only Johoreans, but also foreign tourists and ultimately foreign investors as well.

  "How can Iskandar Malaysia expect to succeed in making south Johor a world-class international hub to attract foreign investments?

  "The state government, the authorities and also the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) have a role to play in tackling the Mat Rempit menace," said  Ridwan.

A group of Mat Rempit detained with their machines during an operation by the police in Kulaijaya recently. Some areas in Johor Baru have become hotspots for Mat Rempit who indulge in illegal racing and dangerous stunts.

The Mat Rempit problem has become a nuisance for Johor Baru’s law-abiding folk.

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